It is the end of Day 3 here in the City of Tacloban, Philippines. We spent the day doing much of what we did on day 2. I was able to find my way to the early morning mass before we started our training at 9am.
I always find it interesting to see the theological and spiritual lens people use to respond to a tragedy. In these moments we are asking, “Why does a loving God allow bad things to happen?”
On Sunday morning I attended mass at Sto Niños parish, a short walk from our hotel. As you can see from the photos below, the parish did not fare well in the storm.
The gospel from this Sunday was the Emmaus story. Three days after the crucifixion of Jesus two of his disciples are walking along the road. A stranger approaches them and asks what they are talking about. They recount the past three days. The death. The missing body. The stories of angels saying he is risen.
Over dinner the stranger breaks and blesses bread. In that moment the disciples’ eyes are opened and see it is Jesus resurrected.
The homily was about 40% in English, but this is what I caught.
The reason the disciples were unable to truly see who was walking with them was because they were in fear. Even though the storm was 6 months ago, we are still in fear. This fear is preventing us from seeing what life is really like and what is really around us. Even though we are in fear God loves us. We must seek out joy, the joy of the Lord, and in doing so we will lose our fear.
It was an interesting homily to hear before spending 6 hours walking moment by moment through that fear as I heard many more tell their stories. I will be sharing more of their words tomorrow.
Because of the destruction the mass was held in the courtyard across from the church. It is a simple structure with a tin roof.
When I arrived I found a few open seats on the right side of the congregation. I sat down only to realize that I was going to bake in the sun and that is why those seats were free.
Here is a picture of a group of people standing in the shadow of an obelisk so they could be close enough to hear, but still in the shade. No one was standing in the sun.
This is a photo of the water taken from the front steps of the church. It is hard to tell in this picture, but the water is only 1.5 blocks away.
As you can see the church is not just damaged, it has been destroyed.
These are photos of the inside of the church. Yes, there is no roof.
This is what the shell of the church looks like from the outside. No roof. No stained glass.
You will notice the altar is still standing, protected by a table built by parishioners.
These photos are everywhere. These are the ones in the walkway of the church’s narthex.
The side chapel is still standing and is used for smaller masses and daily mass.
This is a photo of part of the tents that have been set up off the side chapel so that it can accommodate more people. I love who provided it. Everyone working together.
Here is a photo of what they hope to build.
Giving thanks for prayers and support.
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